Warren Buffett compared AI to nuclear weapons in a stark warning

Warren Buffett compared AI to nuclear weapons in a stark warning

Warren Buffett is worried about artificial intelligence.

At his annual shareholder meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, the 93-year-old co-founder, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway issued a stark warning about the technology’s potential dangers.

“We let the genie out of the bottle when we developed nuclear weapons,” he said Saturday. “AI is quite similar – it’s part way out of the bottle.”

The so-called Oracle of Omaha admitted to his audience that he had little idea of the technology behind AI, but said he was still afraid of its effects. His image and voice were recently replicated by an AI-backed tool, he said, and they were so convincing that they could fool his own family. Fraud using this deep forgery, he added, is likely to become more prevalent.

“If I was interested in investing in fraud, it would be a growth industry all the time,” he told the crowd.

Berkshire Hathaway has started using some AI in its own business to make workers more efficient, Greg Abel, Buffett’s expected successor to run Berkshire’s non-insurance operations, said on Saturday.

“At times it replaces the workforce, but then hopefully, there are other opportunities,” said Abel, who did not reveal many details about how the company plans to use AI.

Buffett also acknowledged that the technology could change the world for the better, but said he wasn’t sold yet. “It has great potential for good and great potential for harm,” he said. “And I don’t know how it happened.”

The explosion of AI has transformed workplaces around the world and nearly 40% of global jobs could be disrupted by AI, according to the International Monetary Fund. Industries from medicine, finance to music have already felt the effects.

Shares of companies linked to the AI boom have soared. Chipmaker Nvidia ( NVDA ) is up about 215% over the past 12 months, while Microsoft ( MSFT ) is up about 34%.

Shares of Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.A), have risen by 22% during the same period.

Not just Buffett
Buffett isn’t the only major business figure to express concern about AI scams.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said in his annual shareholder letter last month that while he doesn’t yet know the full impact of AI on business, the economy or society, he knows its influence will be significant.

“We absolutely believe the consequences will be extraordinary and perhaps as transformative as some of the major technological inventions of the past few hundred years: Think the printing press, the steam engine, electricity, computing and the Internet, among others,” JPMorgan CEO Chase (JPM ) wrote in the letter.

Dimon also recognizes the risks that come with the AI boom. “You may already be aware that there are bad actors using AI to try to infiltrate company systems to steal money and intellectual property or simply to cause disruption and damage,” he wrote.

In January, JPMorgan Chase said it had seen a large increase in daily attempts by hackers to infiltrate its systems over the past year, highlighting the growing cybersecurity challenges facing banks and other Wall Street firms.

JPMorgan Chase, the world’s largest bank by market capitalization, is also exploring the potential of generative AI in its own ecosystem, Dimon said. Software engineering, customer service and operations and general employee productivity are all getting an AI makeover.

Forty-two percent of CEOs surveyed at the Yale CEO Summit last summer said AI has the potential to destroy humans five to 10 years from now, according to survey results shared exclusively with CNN.

“It’s pretty dark and worrisome,” Yale professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld said of the findings.

Sonnenfeld said the survey included responses from 119 CEOs from a cross-section of businesses, including Walmart CEO Doug McMillion, Coca-Cola CEO James Quincy, leaders of IT companies such as Xerox and Zoom and CEOs from pharmaceuticals, media and manufacturing.

Dozens of AI industry leaders, academics and even some celebrities have signed a statement warning about the risk of “extinction” from AI.

The statement, signed by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Geoffrey Hinton, the “godfather of AI” and top executives from Google and Microsoft, called on society to take steps to be alert to the dangers of AI.

“Reducing the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority in as well as other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war,” the statement said.

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